When you think about networking, what comes to mind? Are you dripping in sweat and filled with dread? Or are you reciting every line from your resumé and searching for every possible question to ask?
It’s time to throw away these and any other futile responses to “networking.” As law students, networking is an opportunity to learn about your desired field and meet people, as another IP Bytes member noted. You can do far more than simply survive. The goal is to leverage the event. Meet new people, learn about the profession, and get your questions answered! Let me explain further using my own experience.
On Thursday, February 10, Loyola University Chicago School of Law and the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) collaborated to put on a Virtual IP Speed Mentoring & Networking Event which I attended. I got a lot out of it, but my experience started long before the actual day of the event. But let me start from the beginning.
January 26th – Invitation
The timeline begins when I found out about the event. To learn about networking events, you must read your email. The Loyola Law School Announcements are a great place to learn about events going on at school and in the area, including IP.
However, the school announcements are not an exhaustive list of every networking event. Joining affinity groups at school and within the community will expand your opportunities. IPLAC is a good example of an affinity group in the broader community that enables you to connect with IP attorneys in Chicago and nationally.
February 3rd – 1 Week Before
Start planning. I like to begin with planning where I will log on for the virtual event. I prefer to work on campus. Ensure the background is professional, either real or one found on zoom. May I suggest the lovely ones created by Loyola!
The most essential component of preparation is doing your homework. Come prepared with questions. This demonstrates enthusiasm for the event and the profession.
For this event, I used the list to find those with a professional history that matched my interests. I found Craig Beaker, a Loyola alumnus that practices trademark law. I was prepared to ask about the activities and societies he participated in as a student and what classes he recommends. I also found Vangelis Economou, an attorney with diverse and extensive IP experience. He has experience as an adjunct professor at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and he spent time practicing at several firms. This made him the perfect attorney to ask about different IP practice environments and his advice on when to take the patent “bar”.
Last minute preparation. I laid out my business professional clothes. A virtual platform does not make the event any more casual. Always. Wear. The. Blazer.
February 10th – The Day Of!
While I was physically stationed in a study room in the library, every eight minutes I was at a new virtual table with different attorneys and students.
The attorneys were attentive and excited to answer our questions. Many questions surrounded the paths that led to their current roles, or their approach to a work/life balance. The newer associates spoke about the transition from summer positions to full time, and the adjustment to the new time commitment and workload. Law firm partners explained the transition into overseeing projects and having more skin in the game.
Students without a science degree were curious how to get involved with IP without this scientific background. Many attorneys were able to explain that the copyright or trademark work they did required no science knowledge.
Overall, I learned a lot in a short amount of time. I learned about my eligibility for taking the patent bar and when I should do so. I also learned about the classes at Loyola that provide an advantage for someone interested in IP, and which classes every law student should take. I learned about the comparable work life balance from working as an in-house lawyer at a company to working at a law firm.
I heard about experiences with boutique IP firms that only do IP against compared to what it is like to work for larger firms with IP departments. I was inspired by the different aspects of IP that motivated others to find a career in it. I was introduced to getting involved in other IP bar associations in Chicago and nationwide, through groups like IPLAC, to learn more about the field and increase connections.
Don’t overcomplicate it!!!
Networking doesn’t have to be so daunting. Think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow as a professional. And you might just enjoy it! I certainly did.
I’m grateful for IPLAC, Loyola, and Professor Ho collaborating on such a fun and interactive event to network and learn more about an area of law I am passionate about. I look forward to future events!
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D. 2024